Have you ever walked outside barefoot and immediately wished you had shoes? The image of quickly lifting one foot after another (as if you’re doing a little dance) comes to mind. Because, when the weather starts warming up, the pavement temp rises too … and it can quickly become too hot for our little tootsies to handle. But what about our dogs?
A huge misconception that many people have is: A dog’s paws can tolerate anything. That’s not true. Just like human feet, paws can crack, blister, and bleed. According to the AKC, a dog’s paw is made up of skin, bone, tendons, ligaments, blood supply, and connective tissue. That doesn’t sound all that different than our anatomy.
Read on for some advice to help keep your pooch’s paws healthy during Spring and Summer!
So, How Hot Is The Asphalt Really?
According to the Journal Of The American Medical Association, when the air temperature is a comfortable 77ºF, asphalt in the sun is actually a whopping 125ºF! Taking it up a notch, when the air is 87ºF, the asphalt reportedly spikes up to 143ºF. That’s way too hot for our pup’s paws. Experts say when the asphalt reaches 125ºF, skin destruction can happen to dogs in as little as 60 seconds!
So, next time you head out for a walk, don’t just think of the air temperature. Be mindful that asphalt and other ground surfaces retain heat and scorch your fur kid’s feet.
Feel The Ground
When heading out for a walk, take a second to place your hand or bare foot on the pavement to check the heat. A good rule of thumb: If you can’t tolerate the temperature for at least 10 seconds then it’s too hot for your pup.
Change Walking Hours
One of the easiest things you can do is change up the times you go for long walks. Try going early in the morning and later in the evening, when the sun isn’t at its strongest. During the hot afternoon hours, if your pooch needs a potty break, try sticking to grassy areas.
Use Paw Wax Before Walks
Rubbing a little paw wax on your pup’s paws before walks can help create a protective layer. It’s designed to protect against heat during the hot summer months and harmful chemicals, like road salts, during cold winter months. *Even with paw wax, you should still be mindful of the asphalt temperature using the method above. Just because your dog has paw wax rubbed on his tootsies doesn’t mean he can’t get burned when the ground is too hot. Plus, balms can wear out over time.
You can either buy a paw wax or make your own! This product by Musher’s Secret is a top-rated paw wax on Amazon:
If you’re considering making your own, check out this recipe by Planet Paws (note: While they have tailored this video to the harsh winter months, it’s a great paw wax recipe for any time of the year):
Just like you moisturize your own hands and feet, dog paws can benefit from a good moisturizer too! Paws can crack and bleed when they’re too dry, and dry paws are more susceptible to damage from hot walking surfaces than healthy ones. So, a good paw moisturizer could work wonders. It’s important to note that you should never use human lotion on your dog’s paws. Rather, you can use a little coconut oil or there are plenty of dog paw moisturizers on the market.
Check Your Pup’s Toes After Walks
If your dog enjoys long walks in the park or around your neighborhood, make sure to do a daily toe check! It’s pretty easy for little pebbles or sharp stickers to get stuck in the crevices of your dog’s feet.
What To Do If Your Pup’s Paws Are Injured
If you notice blisters, ulcerated patches, or red marks on your pup’s paws then they are burned. If it’s a mild burn, immediately wash their paws with dog-safe antibacterial soap and then loosely wrap with gauze. For more serious burns, make sure to visit your vet ASAP.
If you notice any cuts or scrapes on your dog’s paw pads, clean the area with a dog-friendly antibacterial wash. Then, put some antibacterial cream on the pad and wrap it with a bandage. *If you don’t have a pet first aid kit yet, check out THIS list of essentials. It’s always good to be prepared.